Dark Phoenix - X-Men - WIP


Just to update - she’s now finished: The Dark Phoenix

Hi all,

So I’m starting a new 3D project - first one in a little while, and the first one I’ve posted on here in a long time.

Recently, whilst rewatching the original three X-Men films, I got some random inspiration to re-create a scene from the film. I’ve been wanting to do another character project anyway, so thought: Why not?

I’ve spend the past week working on a base mesh to use for this project, and future projects.

The results of which are here:

Nice clean topology too - and all ready to go and be used.

The first step of this project is working on the likeness of Famke Janssen.

I’m still pretty new to sculpting - especially people. This will be my first official time!

Here is where I’m at after about 4 hours or so:

There are things to fix on it for sure - but a good start, and I think the likeness is starting to come through.

This is going to be a big scene - so lots to do.

More soon! :smiley:


Another hour or two sculpting. I’m pretty happy with the general shape now, and am making smaller changes. I think the likeness is there - I can see it anyway, but then I’m probably bias.

I know I’m not going to get it perfect, especially on my first try doing a likeness study.


I made a few changes to the form, mainly around the eyebrows and mouth.
I’m pretty happy with where I’m at for now, and will probably let it sit for a few days, and come back to it. If anything seems overly ‘off’ then I can fix it…

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Hi all,

Back with another update. I’ve been working on the base textures for the head over the past few days. Only the diffuse and the displacement maps for now, as I just needed a clean starting point.

I used some textures from Texturing XYZ - which was my first time using them, but well worth the money.

I used a technique that I saw in a video from the fantastic character artist Kubisi. He showcased a method in which you import your texture as a plane, subdivide it a bunch, and then wrap it around a target mesh using a program called Wrap3D - you can get a 30 day free trial. You then bake the results in xNormal, and clean up afterwards using your method of choice. I used substance.

Wrapped plane which I cleaned up a little in Blender before exporting to xNormal:

Cleaned up textures once exported:

Just diffuse:

For your nightmares (Exported meshes were 10x bigger than actual mesh - so just had to do /10 in each of the values to divide by 10 and fix it up):

The displacement map is split into it’s RGB channels using a Split RGB node, with each channel going into its own displacement node, and then combining them with vector math nodes. This gives you the needed control over the 3 channels, and avoids you needing to use an actual displacement/bake method.

Diffuse base is ready to go - we have a LOT to do to that for the final piece. There are a few tweaks I need to make to the displacement map, but that’s almost done.

More soon!


So…I’ve started working on the actual textures for the face. Dark Phoenix has some kind of corruption on her face, which I’ve tried to emulate. It’s going to get tweaked,but I think it’s looking pretty good. This is still just a basic shader atm. No spec maps or SSS at this point.

The glowing is done using an emission map.

Eyes are temporary for now, though they are almost completely black, but for a little white - but I’ll come to that later.

I have a couple of layers of veins, which are varied in their opacity to try and give the illusion of depth. I didn’t want them to look like they were painted ontop, but were actually under the skin - I think I’ve somewhat achieved that, though again, I’ll work on it some more, I’m sure…

I did also make a few small tweaks to the sculpt, but nothing major. I don’t think I’ll be making any more drastic changes to it, as I’m pretty happy with it.



Been a while since I updated this thread. I’ve not been working on the project a huge amount, just an hour here or there over the past couple of weeks. All I’ve really been doing at the moment is getting the skin textures to a place where I’m happy.

The previous post was some experimentation with some skin effects. It was a good starting point to build off of, and I’m now much happier with where I’m at. Still no SSS for the time being, as it adds a ton of time to rendering - so for now I have it off. There are still some tweaks I need to make, but overall, I’m pretty happy with it so far. I think the sooner I add some eyebrows and lashes the better.

The head and body are split into two different materials with their own UV’s. I learned about UDIMS a little too late in the process, and didn’t fancy starting again. But I’ve blended the two pretty well, and I don’t really see a visible seam, which is good!

Next step is going to be adding the eyebrows and eyelashes, just so that I can get a better feel of the face. The hair won’t be added until she’s posed.


You should mask out the subsurface glow at glancing edges with a fresnel node. It will sell the “deep embedded” look a lot more convincingly.


Ill give that a go, thanks! :smiley:

I’ve got the eyebrows and lashes added. Perhaps some tweaks needed, but happy enough overall.

Just helps soften everything a bit, and make things looks a little more…normal.

Next step will be making the base model for all of her clothes. Once that’s done, I can add it to the rig, roughly pose her, and then refine everything.

EDIT: Just experimenting a little with some of the skin texturing…


Right…Just spent a little bit of time blocking out the basic shapes for the clothing. The jacket is very long, and has sections which hang off the bottom, but for now I’ve left them off, as they will be blowing about in the final composition, so there’s no real point or need for placeholders pieces.

Nothing is going to be detailed or finalised until they’re added to the rig and posed, expect probably the boots. I’ll get the general shapes and construction completed so that they can be added to the rig like everything else, but I’ll likely leave the finer details until it’s posed, so I don’t have to mess about with rigging too much, but we’ll see.

I also did a little more work on the textures, fixing a few bits, tweaked the eyebrows a little and also fixing the little bits on the corner of the eye, adding some color variation, and a bump map. I also added a water line. Whole thing blends together much nicer now…

I’ve pretty much finished the base for the clothing now - apart from some finer details, and the longer pieces of the jacket which hang loose around the legs. I’ve not modelled these for now as they will be blowing about in the final piece, so not really any point to a placeholder mesh.

Everything is added to the rig too, and works as well as it needs to. Once I’ve posed her, I can start finalising details - Sculpting, Shoe laces, stitches, etc…All little things to make it come alive a little more, as it’s all quite flat and boring for now - though that’s intended for the time being.

Posing is the next step. Then I can look at UV unwrapping everything, and getting everything ready for texturing in Substance.

More Soon! :smiley:

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Before I finalise the pose and start work on getting thing more refined, I thought it’d be a good idea to sketch out the environment. Nothing too fancy. Just lots of debris etc…

This is all really simple stuff for the time being. Not really refined anything - just blocking in shapes. I still think I need some more variation in things on the ground - more metal to go with the brick, and some more rubble variations, but I think it’s looking pretty good.

In the film, she’s standing on a crumpled car, but honestly…I can’t be bothered to model, UV unwrap and texture a car. Concrete and metal pipes are much easier lol


I caved. I’m modelling the stupid damn car lol

So the plan is to have it look as good as it needs to. It’s going to be all kind of crushed and destroyed, with Phoenix standing ontop of it, so it doesn’t have to be a perfect representation of the car - it just has to be good enough.

This is the farthest I’ve ever got modelling a car, so hooray for that I guess - though the last time I tried was probably a good 8 or 9 years ago.

I’ll probably model some of the underside too, again though, not in any great amounts of detail. That way I can use some of the parts loose in the environment, but also, If I wanted to have another car flipped over as part of the scene, there is enough there. Not decided yet though - depends if I can be bothered (probaly not…)

More soon! :smiley:


Just a quick little test render, to get the SSS value roughly right. Just color set to red for now. No maps or anything…

Still no-where near final. Just experimenting a little so I can have some ideas once everything else is done.

EDIT: I did a quick little paint over in Photoshop of some hair. If only particle hair was as quick and easy lol

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I’ve finished the car model. This is the first time I’ve ever “completed” a car model. It went surprisingly well. Topology isn’t bad either, which is nice. By no means perfect, but It’s going to be crushed, and battered anyway, so doesn’t need to be any more than this.

Not entirely sure how I’m going to achieve the damaged look. I might use multires and sculpt the damage. Not sure yet. I’m sure I’ll figure something out.

More soon!

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Destroyed. Don’t worry - I have a backup of the original. Just used some proportional editing set to sharp, and then just bevelled some of the bends, and surface dents. All UV unwrapped too, which was surprisingly simple.

Ok…So I’m getting to a point where I’m not a huge distance from the finish line. Still lots to do, but I’ve been thinking about the final composition, and have been using my previous environment test as a sort of playground for ideas. Just trying things out, seeing what I do and don’t like, Getting a very rough idea in my head for lighting etc…

I have a bunch of environment assets to model, and so started on that today with a background element:

This destroyed building.

Super basic, but as an out of focus background element, it’s perfect as a space filler.

To help with my final composition, I setup a very rough composition, and did a quick 100 sample render. Still using the placeholder elements, with the exception of the car and the element above.

Think of this as a kinda pre-vis you see in animation. I then took it into photoshop, and did some editing, aswell as some crude paint overs, to come up with a general (yet rough) idea of what I think the final piece might look like.

Now again, bare in mind this is just rough. I will of course make multiple renders in the end, but this will be the big showcase render which’ll eventually be rendered out in 4K (if my pc doesn’t die).

The challenge is getting her to be the focus. I’m probably going to give her separate lighting from the environment, just to make sure she pops ad much as possible.

More Soon! :smiley:

I’ve added the base mesh for the rest of the coat. There are two layers, with the underside being quite thin, and kinda translucent too. I’ve added a simple displacement modifier to it to give it a crumpled look, which somewhat matches the reference. I’ll also be sculpting over the top too.

I started with a simple cloth sim, with some wind. I then took the result of that, applied it, and then used the sculpting cloth brushes to adjust the shape a little more. Then I did some more general editing with proportional editing. For the under layer, I just duplicated, and then made some changes manually. It makes sense that the under layer would mostly follow it’s parent…well, I think it does anyway…

You can see that I’ve imported the roof of the car into the file too, just so I could get the feet roughly right to be standing on the surface whilst in it’s pose. I’ll be doing the sculpted details in the pose, and so it helps to have it more or less finalised (for me at-least).

I then went and UV unwrapped everything, which was super easy!

I won’t do any texturing in substance until I’ve sculpted details, as I like to have all of the geometry info to export to substance, as you can bake better dirt maps and stuff if you have the added details the sculpting pass brings…

Sculpting pass is up next.

More soon!

I’ve started sculpting.

Starting on the boots first.

Initially, I did a pass where I just broke up the surface a but, and then got a little stronger with the brush as I went. I then upped the Multires a level (level 4) and made some of the details a little sharper.

Most of my lace loops disappeared inside the mesh, so I just applied a shrink wrap to them set to project, and scaled them outwards until they sat on the surface again.

I then moved onto the laces. Just a simple curve with some bevel - nothing fancy. Only done the one at the moment, but it takes a little while, and is a little tedious.

More soon!

I’ve started going through the meshes, and sculpting in their details. We started yesterday with the boots, which are now finished.

It’s possible I may do an extra multires level and go over the boots and sharpen things up further, but for now, I’m super happy with them.

Working from the bottom up, I then moved onto the trousers.

Originally, I planned keeping the items attached the the rig, but due to what seems to be a bug in Blender at the moment, where a multires level of 4 or above breaks the rig, I’ve had to apply the Armature Modifier on everything I sculpt. Not idea, but all weight painting info is still there, so it’s very easy to re-attach everything should I wish to make any slight modifications to the pose.

I didn’t want too much noise on the trousers, as they are fairly tight fitting.

I’ve just got the main top half of the jacket, and the little piece of under shirt to do, and that’ll be the sculpting mostly done. I have a little more to do on her, specifically her neck, which at the moment doesn’t have much definition.

I’m getting there. More soon! :smiley:

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